When my kids were young I read them a lot of stories from “The Book of Virtues.” Many of them were old folk tales so they knew all about witches at an early age.
Having a cottage with a stone hearth, it wasn’t hard to sell them on the idea that witches are real. We’d be outside in the evening and get a whiff of wood smoke and I’d say, “Oh, smells like the witch is making supper,” or I’d see a hunters light and say, “Yep, looks like the witch is making her way home.” Ours was a friendly witch by the way.
Buying anniversary flowers one year I noticed that they had “Mississippi Rocks” for sale. These were glossy little candies that looked all the world like polished rocks but were actually chocolate. I bought a bunch and when I got home, put them in a wrinkled brown bag. At lunchtime, I presented them to my three young children. I said, “That witch that lives down along Plum Creek came up to the shop today and sat these on the windowsill outside the wood lathe. She motioned for me to give ‘em to you for an Easter present. I guess it’s all she had.”
Their big eyes went back and forth from the candy to me and then they got a whiff of that chocolate and those eyes narrowed. “Don’t put that in your mouth, thems rocks I yelled. Crunch, too late, the game was up. “Whad’ya mean they’re chocolate?” I feigned. “Dat witch musta put a spell on ‘em and we can eat ‘em.”
The next day was a Saturday and I told the kids “Hey, you need to put together a present for that witch.” “What do witches like?” “Oh, you know, feathers and bones and stuff like that.”
The scavenger hunt was on and it wasn’t long before they had a basket full of enough “gifts” to melt the heart of even the coldest witch. At the time I had just processed some chickens and because we also do deer there were plenty of feathers and bones, but that wasn’t enough. There was a duckbill, a dried out flattened frog they found on the driveway, a pinecone (she’ll like it cuz it’s scratchy) and a turtle shell from a previous adventure.
“What about chicken poop Dad?” “No. “No poop.” “Now you kids go and wash your hands real good and we’ll take this down to the witch. We took the truck down the gravel and parked in a gateway and had to hike about a quarter-mile. Once in the woods, I selected a clearing and made a tall tripod from willow trunks and had the kids arrange their offering in a circle underneath. I made a small fire in the center and made a big show of waving the smoke around and chanting some indecipherable incantation.
“She’s pretty shy so you won’t see her but she’s watching you,” I said.
One by one they cupped their hands around their mouth and said things like, “Thanks for the chocwik wocks,” and “Happy Easter Witch lady.”
With that, we turned to go and pushing aside a small branch my son let it fly back and it hit the 3-year-old in the head. Dang. The boy, (7), thinking he was in trouble takes off running with the 5-year-old right behind. I’m stuck consoling this little girl and I have no idea where they’re off too.
By the time we make it to the edge of the woods, I spy them way out in the middle of a field headed for the farm over a half-mile away. Dang again. They’re headed right for a tile ditch and I throw up a prayer hoping they don’t get stuck in the mud or something. I put the little one on my shoulders and made my way across the chisel plowed ground. We all made it back eventually and exhausted, tried to forget it ever happened.
Later that afternoon a friend of mine flew into our yard with his pickup. He jumped out and said, “Dude, there’s something seriously weird going on in your timber. Me and the guys were four-wheeling earlier and when we got into yours we ran into some crazy voodoo crap. There was a teepee with animal parts in a circle and a fire that was still glowing. “I don’t know man, might be a cult or maybe a meth lab.”
I told Skinny to run it over and he said, “Are you crazy. I ain’t running nothing over — what if they’re watching us right now?
“You’re right, lets get the heck out of here.”
I laughed for two days over that one. I guess if there’s a lesson here it might be that whether you are a child or an adult, we tend to believe more of what we perceive than what we see.